Spotlight: Students

Adam Coon

It’s not every day that a U-M graduate student is introduced to both the Michigan State Senate and State House of Representatives, but that’s exactly what Adam Coon recently experienced.

Senator Jon Hune, and Representative Hank Vaupel, who both serve the district in which Adam’s hometown of Fowlerville resides, presented him on the floor of each chamber this past April. Adam was formally recognized by both houses of the State Congress “…for his outstanding record of achievement in collegiate athletics and for his commitment to academic excellence.”

Adam is on the U-M Varsity Wrestling team, where he’s piled up an impressive record of athletic and academic awards and recognitions. In his sophomore and junior years, Adam was an NCAA All-American in the heavyweight class, as well as Academic All-Big Ten for both years. During his senior year, he received the U-M Athletic Academic Achievement Award, and this past April, Adam defeated 2012 Olympic champion Jake Varne to capture the U.S. Open Freestyle Title, and place runner-up in the Greco category.

He grew up on a farm in Fowlerville, MI. where, among other chores, he spent a lot of time bailing hay. “It definitely helped my athletic career,” Adam says, laughing. In high school, he played football, wrestled, and ran track. He was named Senior of the Year by the Detroit Athletic Club. He was also Salutatorian for his graduating class.

“Math and Science always came very easy to me,” he says. “And from a young age, I always had a lot of interest in space. You know how so me kids want to be fireman, or police officers? Well, I always wanted to be an astronaut. And I still do.” NASA’s current height restrictions put Adam’s 6-foot-5, 285-pound frame out of the running for the tight confines of a spacecraft, but he still holds out hope. And he’s got a back-up plan.

“If I can’t be an astronaut, at least I could work side-by-side with them in an engineering capacity.” Which was the main reason he came to U-M in the first place. He earned his BS from Aerospace Engineering, and then crossed the street to Climate & Space for grad school. “I chose CLaSP for the Space Engineering program,” he says. “It was definitely what I wanted to focus on, and it was a perfect fit.”

While Adam says he enjoyed his undergrad years, his time at CLaSP was truly memorable. “I loved it here. The smaller class sizes meant a lot more interaction with my classmates and the professors. We learned from each other, and I made some close friends. It felt like we were all in it together. I loved my time at CLaSP. Loved it.”

He says he felt at home in the department’s small-town atmosphere. And he says the smaller classes made a significant difference in communication. “Because the group was smaller, the professors would talk with the class, instead of talking at the class. I don’t see that happening in a class of two hundred people.” He further says he felt like there was a free exchange of ideas with the department faculty. “They know everyone in their classes, so you can have a conversation.”

Adam has this advice for students:

“Think about what you want to do with your degree, how far you want to take it. Whether you want to get a job or continue your education. Grad school is lots of fun. There is a lot of work involved, but the relationships you make with the faculty and your classmates are unique. You connect and learn together. It makes it easier knowing you can count on these close-knit relationships.”

Adam received his MEng in Space Engineering in May, and has decided to postpone his PhD for the time being. He’s currently looking for a research position while he continues his wrestling training. He’s riding the momentum of his recent successes and begun the qualifying process for the 2020 U.S. Olympic Team.

Looking at his achievements so far, we’d say Adam has a great chance of competing under the Olympic torch!